My First Dance with Deborah

Ok, so no I was not physically dancing with Deborah Madison. However, last night, I prepared the first of many meals to come based on her cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Some things were a raving success with my guests and I, while others will need to revisit the drawing board. So the menu for last night was this barbecued tempeh made with her Golden Mustard Barbecue Sauce, Kale with Cannelini Beans, and Quinoa and Fresh Corn with Scallions. 

Picture taken by Zoe DavisThinking about what I have learned from the advice of Ann Burrell and others on the Worst Cooks in American and from Deborah Madison’s advice, I began with a clean working area and got all of my ingredients together.  While the option was offered for using one of her barbecue sauces or my favorite, I chose to go with her Golden Mustard Barbecue Sauce because it was much lower in carbs then any that I still have in my refrigerator and it was something I could do earlier in the day then everything else and it would be in the frig for me when I got home from errands and meetings I had scheduled yesterday.  Two cups of this sauce contained 11.5 net carbs. So I knew the amount needed to coat my tempeh and barbecue with it would be miniscule.

Golden Mustard Barbecue Sauce


  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup water


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until thickened and onions are moistened.
  3. NOTE: You can use this warm or cold and it will last in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  4. NOTE: you can also add 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar if you like it sweeter. My second batch, I added SPLENDA brown sugar. To give it a sweeter taste and to keep it low in carbohydrates.

Coming home after a busy afternoon, I got all of my ingredients together and in place. I began by boiling and lightly seasoning the water for my kale as I knew that would take the longest to do. Then I began working on the corn. I shucked the corn, removed the kernels putting them in one bowl, and then scraped all the milk from the cobs into another bowl. Then I began working on my tempeh. I prepared the broth, sliced my tempeh into thirds and put it on to steam.

While the tempeh was steaming, I began working on my kale and quinoa. I put my kale into the pot to simmer and brought the water to a boil for my quinoa. While my kale was simmering and the water for my quinoa was coming to a boil, I began working on the rest of the ingredients for the kale.

Kale with Cannellini Beans


  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs kale or mixed greens with ribs and stems removed.
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper to taste.
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans, rinsed well if canned
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Simmer the kale in salted water until tender, 7-10 minutes.
  2. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and chop the leaves.
  3. In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the oil with the garlic, pepper flakes, and rosemary for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced to a syrupy sauce.
  4. Add the beans, kale, and enough of the cooking water to keep the mixture loose.
  5. Heat through, taste for salt and season with pepper and a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

The net carbs for this dish were 32.9 carbs for a full serving. This recipe made 4 servings, however, to keep the carb count within our range, we each had ½ of a serving. So for us this recipe would have served 8.

Once my quinoa water began to boil, I added the quinoa, salt and corn scrapings to the pot, lowered the heat, covered and simmered for about 15 minutes. While the quinoa was simmering, I dipped my steamed tempeh in the barbecue sauce and broiled them for 5 minutes on each side. After taking my tempeh out of the oven, I removed my quinoa from the heat for about five minutes. While that was resting, I sautéed my corn, scallions and butter until the scallions turned a beautiful green. Then I tossed them with my quinoa.

Quinoa and Corn with Scallions


  • ·                    3 plump ears of corn
  • ·                    2 cups water (or stock)
  • ·                    1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
  • ·                    salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • ·                    1 tablespoon canola oil (or butter)
  • ·                    ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, including some of the greens
  • ·                    1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese


  1. Shuck the corn, slice off the kernels, and set aside.
  2. Reverse your knife and scrape the cobs to get the milk.
  3. Bring the stock or water to a boil; add the quinoa, corn scrapings and ½ teaspoon salt.
  4. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Melt the butter in a small skillet, add the scallions and corn kernels and cook over medium high heat until the scallions are bright green, about 3 minutes.
  6. Toss them with the quinoa.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Garnish with the crumbled cheese.

The net carbs on this dish were 40.6 on four servings, however, again, I cut this back to 8 servings when dishing out which lowered it to 20.3 grams of carbs.

After all I was said and done, we wound up enjoying a meal of barbecued tempeh, kale with cannellini beans and quinoa and corn with scallions. While I managed to get it down to under 45 grams of carbs with reduced portion sizes, there are a few things I realized I could do to lower the carb count, especially in the quinoa dish. However, it was the corn and the sweetness it brought that made it so wonderful.  I could use fat free feta next time or perhaps just use the corn scrapings and eliminate the corn. However, for now, I think I am just going to stay with the smaller portion size, as it seemed adequate for us.

Tempeh Simmered in Broth


  • ·                    1 8 or 10 ounce package tempeh
  • ·                    2 garlic cloves, put through a press
  • ·                    a few onion slices
  • ·                    2 bay leaves
  • ·                    1/4 thin soy sauce


  • Cut the tempeh into the size of shape you will be using it for later.
  • Put everything in a skillet just large enough to hold the tempeh, bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer slowly until the broth has been absorbed about 15 minutes, turn it over once during the cooking.

This preparation method resulted in 3 carbs per serving of the tempeh.

I then dipped my steamed tempeh in the barbecue sauce and broiled it for 5 minutes on each side. 

So here is the one thing I did not enjoy about this first dance with Deborah. In the directions for steaming the tempeh, it called for thin soy sauce, which I understood to be light sodium soy sauce; however, even this was too salty for our tastes. When combined with the other dishes, which were milder, it was ok. However, next time I steam the tempeh, which did give it a nice consistency, I will probably use something other then soy sauce to steam it in or use less soy sauce or a mixture of soy sauce and water.

Overall, however, I stayed under budget and came in at a grand total of 40.75 net grams of carbs and a filling and satisfying meal and all I had to do was reduce the portion size slightly.

So what did I learn about myself and the Creator in this first dance with Deborah. One thing that I realized was how important it is to see the bigger picture, especially when you are preparing multiple things at one time. It is not as if you are working on A, then B, then C, but often times working on all three of them at one time. So taking the time to think through what needs to be done before you do that is important. As I was doing so, I found myself thinking about my Grandmother who used to tell me that the problem with the world today is we have forgotten how to farm. While I was not farming, I realized I was able to think about where I wanted to be at a given point in time and back everything up so that I was able to plate and serve my meal when I had wanted to do so. I came to realize that the ability to stop and think through a situation is a gift from the Creator. I came to realize the importance of not getting flustered and know there is always an alternative. For example, I was out of rosemary, so I substituted tarragon.  Don’t panic. Get creative. As Tim Gunn used to say, “Make it work!” and Make it work we did.  Can’t wait to dance with Deborah again.